Stewart: Defense of Marriage Act ruling relevant to employers
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will be reviewed by the Supreme Court in its upcoming session, with a decision likely to be issued around June of this year. Many pundits are predicting that DOMA will be overturned, at least in part. This article will address what provisions will likely be reviewed, and what impact a decision to overturn DOMA would have on Illinois employers.
DOMA, in a very general sense, is legislation that: (a) recognizes marriage under federal law to only be between one man and one woman (Section 3); and (b) permits states to not have to recognize same-sex marriages entered into in another state (Section 2).
Section 3 is the reason that same-sex civil union partners in Illinois are not eligible, for example, for federal tax status and exemptions as a married couple, while married couples and opposite-sex civil union partners in Illinois (yes, civil unions are available to opposite sex partners) are considered married under federal law and thus eligible for federal benefits.
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